Thursday, March 14, 2013

Irish Eyes Are Smiling- Irish Lamb Stew

I'm preparing for St. Patrick's Day this coming weekend.  What better dish to prepare than the iconic Irish Lamb Stew?  It's simple, easy and very tasty.  I started with the recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery School.  Owner, Darina Allen, is probably Ireland's most famous chef.  The school is located in Cork, Ireland- in the middle of a 100 acre organic farm.  This is the go to place to find traditional, authentic Irish recipes.

This is one of those recipes where every Irish cook has his or her own version.  At its simplest, it contains lamb, potatoes, onions and a few herbs.  You could add Guinness beer for extra flavour and additional vegetables.  I've chosen to add carrots.  The secret here is to brown the meat and then let the stew cook on low heat for as long as it takes to render it fork tender.  That's a few hours on the back of the stove or in the oven.

To serve 4-6
2½ - 3 lbs (1.35kg) lamb chops (roast or rack chops) not less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick
8     medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
8     medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1-2 cups of peas (frozen can be used), optional
8 -12 potatoes, or more if you like, peeled and cut into chunks
salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4  cups stock (lamb stock if possible) or water
1     sprig of thyme
1    tbsp roux, optional - see below 

1    tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1    tbsp. freshly chopped chives

1     tbsp butter
1     tbsp flour

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (if cooking in the oven, instead of the stovetop)
Rendering the fat from the lamb
Cut the chops in half and trim off some of the excess fat. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces).  I couldn't get chops, so I bought a boneless leg of lamb, trimmed most of the fat and cubed the meat.

Browning the lamb
Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Add the carrots and onions and quickly toss in the fat. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt.  Add the lamb stock (or water) to the pan.   Lay the potatoes on top, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a paper lid (or seal with foil) and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1-1½ hours approx. or when the meat is fork tender.

Pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease it and reheat in another saucepan. Slightly thicken by whisking in a little roux* if you like. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve.

*To make the roux, melt the butter and cook the flour in it for two minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.

No comments:

Post a Comment